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Dr Grammar

would have

Posted by peter   19 Jul 2014 5 28 pm

Hi Alex,

In your class, we've learned that for speculation:
may/might/could - are used for the present and future
may have/might have/could have - are used for the past

Is it the same as "would have"?
e.g. They may have arrived hours ago. (= Perhaps they arrived hours ago.)
e.g. They would have arrived hours ago. (= means the same?)

Also, is it possible to use "would have" in the if-clause in conditional?
e.g. If I would have a million dollars, I would buy a big house. (possible? comparing to the two examples below)
e.g. If I had a million dollars, I would buy a big house. (2nd conditional, unreal in the present and future)
e.g. If I had won that million dollars, I would have bought a big house. (3rd conditional, unreal in the past)

I'm still working hard to understand how modals work... @_@

Many thanks!
Peter

 
 
Posted by peter   19 Jul 2014 5 32 pm

Hope I don't bother you too much with endless questions...
 
 

Teacher
Posted by alex stringer   23 Jul 2014 9 08 am

Hi Peter

Happy to answer your questions and apologies for the delay in replying. (Too much admin at the beginning of the week, alas.)

may have / might have / could have
These express events or actions that are possible but not certain. They are used in a number of ways:

(i) Making deductions about the past:

You might have left your bag in the library.

(ii) Expressing possible outcomes that didn't happen.

(Someone was involved in an accident but wasn't hurt) : She's lucky; she could have been killed.

(iii) In conditionals:

If we'd left on time, we might have caught the train.
The speaker is not sure about catching the train; it's just a possibility.

Would have
This shows the certain result of a condition. (The condition applies even if it isn't expressed):


If we'd left on time, we would have caught the train.
The speaker is certain about catching the train.

It's a pity we had to cancel the picnic. It would have been fun.
(If we had had the picnic, it would have been fun.)

Certain outcomes that didn't happen:
Lucky she was wearing a seat belt. She'd certainly have been killed otherwise.
(If she hadn't been wearing a seat belt, she would have been killed.)

With conditionals, the modal perfect form can refer to future results as well as past ones as in the picnic example above or this one:

Oh no. The concert's sold out. I really wanted to go
You should have asked Sally to get you a ticket. She's going with Tim - they ordered their tickets online last week.
Oh, I didn't know she was going.
Yes, she could have ordered one for you at the same time and you could have gone with them.


So, in your examples, They would have arrived hours ago means the speaker is certain. In the second set, modal perfect is not used in the if-clause. The second two examples show unreal conditionals in the past and present as you have indicated.

Hope that helps

Alex


 
 
Posted by peter   2 Aug 2014 7 43 pm

Hi Alex,

I'm still confused with "with conditionals, the modal perfect form can refer to future results ."

Does this mean the follow example?
You should have asked Sally to get you a ticket.


Thanks a lot for the detailed explanation. The use of "would" is confusing...
Peter
 
 

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